Thursday, 11 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

What happens when Islamic extremists take over? 

Let's look at a situation in which they took over an area that primarily was Muslim to begin with, and see.

Following is an interview between Jamie Glazov, Managing Editor of, and Johnathan Schanzer, who is described at the beginning of the interview.

No bold print from me on this one, because every word is important:

How Hamas Governs Gaza  
By Jamie Glazov | Thursday, December 11, 2008

Frontpage Interviews guest today is Jonathan Schanzer, director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center. He has served as a counterterrorism analyst at the U.S. Department of Treasury and as a research fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He is the author of the new book, Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine. Daniel Pipes wrote the foreword to the book and some of the research was undertaken at Pipes' Middle East Forum.

FP: Jonathan Schanzer, thank you for joining us again.

Schanzer: My pleasure, Jamie.

FP: Today, I'd like to talk about the way Hamas has governed Gaza since taking it over by force in 2007. But first, please briefly review the thesis of your new book Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine

Schanzer: My new book documents the ongoing political and military struggle between the two largest Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah dating back to 1988. Today, as a civil war rages in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel, the international community cannot even identify a legitimate Palestinian interlocutor. The book looks at how we arrived at this difficult place.

FP: Please tell our readers about the June 2007 war between Hamas and Fatah.

Schanzer: In a word, it was brutal. The battle for Gaza lasted a mere six days. Fatahs forces, trained and armed by the United States and other western nations, failed miserably. Some left the field of battle. Others joined the Hamas fighters. Those who stood their ground were likely not prepared for their brutal enemy. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, Hamas violence was indiscriminate, demonstrating a willful disregard for the conventions of war. Hamas fighters pushed Fatah members from the roofs of tall buildings. Hamas even killed people who were already injured, or shot their enemies at point-blank range to ensure permanent disabilities. Hamas also attacked private homes and apartment buildings, hospitals, ambulances, and medical crews. All told, the June fighting claimed the lives of at least 161 Palestinians, including 7 children and 11 women. Some 700 Palestinians were wounded.

FP: What happened when the guns fell silent?

Schanzer: Hamas began to govern through a combination of violence, authoritarianism, and Islamism. Ismael Haniyeh, the ascendant ruler of Gaza, officially denied accusations that Hamas intended to establish an Islamic emirate. However, by November, the British press reported that only believers feel safe in Gaza and that un-Islamic dress sometimes resulted in beatings. According to a UN report, women felt coerced to cover their heads not out of religious conviction but out of fear.

The new Hamas government attacked the media and peaceful demonstrations, and engaged in the destruction, seizure, and robbery of governmental and non-governmental institutions, according to one human rights report.

In short, the few reluctant steps toward liberalization that the PA had taken during its 13-year rule in Gazasmall advances in press and political freedoms, for examplewere wiped out in days.

FP: There were reports of torture. Were these accurate?

Schanzer: Yes. Some 1,000 people, almost all members of Fatah and the PA, were illegally arrested in the first months of Hamas rule by the new Hamas police, the Executive Force. The leader of the Executive Force actually admitted to the use of torture and violence against Hamass political enemies. He stated in August that torture occurred in Hamas prisons but that the EF was trying to minimize violations and avoid them through the training of our members.

The allegations of torture continued, however. In September, Hamas abducted five Fatah men who were later transferred for treatment to a Gaza hospital, where evidence of torture was reported. Rights groups reported that other Fatah prisoners sustained fractures to the feet as a result of beatings with sticks. In other instances, Fatah men were handcuffed and blindfolded and had pieces of cloth stuffed in their mouths to stifle their screams.

FP: How did Gazas Christian population fare?

Schanzer: They probably suffered the most. Hamas grossly mistreated the minority Christian community, mostly Greek Orthodox, which had lived in relative peace for centuries amid Gazas predominantly Sunni Muslim population.

In June 2007, masked gunmen attacked the Rosary Sisters School and the Latin Church in Gaza City. Hamas gunmen used rocket-propelled grenades to storm the main entrances of the school and church. Then they destroyed almost everything inside. That same month, Hamas kidnapped Professor Sana al-Sayegh, a teacher at Palestine University in Gaza City, and forced her to convert to Islam against her will. Her familys attempts to meet with Hamas leaders to find her repeatedly failed. Requests by community leaders to meet with Hamas were also turned down.

In October, the body of 30-year-old Rami Ayyad, the owner of the Holy Bible Association, was found in an eastern suburb of Gaza City. Ayyads organization had been the target of a grenade attack during protests stemming from the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005.

In February 2008, unidentified gunmen blew up the YMCA library in the Gaza Strip. Two guards were kidnapped, offices were looted, and vehicles were stolen, and more than 8,000 books were destroyed. That attack came only days after a Hamas modesty patrol attacked a Christian youths car after he was seen driving a female classmate to her home. Both were injured in that attack.

By one count, more than 50 attacks had taken place in the first few months following the June coup. Targets included barbershops, music stores, and even a UN school where boys and girls played sports together.

FP: Did the Gaza population fight back?

Schanzer: Some tried non-violent resistance. However, those who held demonstrations against the lack of law in Gaza also suffered. According to al-Jazeera, the Executive Force beat peaceful Fatah demonstrators after the coup. By August, Hamas banned unlicensed demonstrations by the Fatah party. According to Hamas, the demonstrations were being used to create chaos and terrorism.

Hamass apprehension over the demonstrations was understandable. They sometimes turned violent, particularly when Hamas security forces began forcefully dispersing the crowd. Associated Press television aired images of Hamas men beating an unarmed protester with sticks. In some cases, according to Amnesty International, Hamas deliberately shot unarmed demonstrators. In two cases, Palestinians were shot and killed while trying to help other demonstrators who were injured.

It is interesting to note that when Hamas threw rocks at Israelis during the 1987 and 2000 uprisings, the group called this resistance. When Palestinian protestors threw stones at Hamas, the new rulers of Gaza called them outlaws and arrested them.

FP: So, why did most people not hear about this in the West?

Schanzer: Hamas worked assiduously to cover its own tracks. To control the reporting out of Gaza, Hamas began to issue government press cards to journalists. Predictably, journalists whom Hamas did not like did not receive credentials. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate protested that the tactic threatened journalists and prevented them from doing their jobs. The syndicate alleged that under the Hamas governments draconian rules, phrases such as Hamas militias and ousted government were banned. Hamas also announced it would ban stories that did not support national responsibilities or those that would cause harm to national unity.

The more journalists complained, the more difficult Hamas made it for them. The Union of Palestinian Journalists reported that after a series of threats, Hamas forces raided the home of one journalist. The union further noted that its ranks had been threatened and blackmailed by Hamas on a daily basis. The Foreign Press Association confirmed these reports, claiming Hamas had engaged in harassment of Palestinian journalists in Gaza. Reporters Without Borders, an international media watchdog group, noted that Hamas failed to investigate these incidents.

FP: How did Hamas manage the Gaza economy?

Schanzer: Rather horribly. Due to Israels sanctions against the Hamas government, stores in Gaza were out of many products, and hospitals ran low on crucial supplies, including anesthetics and antibiotics. Seeking to avert a humanitarian crisis, the Israelis eventually allowed certain medical supplies into Gaza but vowed to withhold other nonessentials. However, Hamas ensured that goods and supplies would be cut off every time they launched rockets into Israel. Indeed, they had a choice. They could either fire rockets and ensure continued suffering for their people, or cease the violence and make sure the population was provided for. For nearly a year, Hamas chose violence.

Hamas also neglected Gazas infrastructure. As a result of Hamas mismanagement, several Gaza sewer pipes burst, which flooded homes and businesses with a foul river of waste that was several yards high. Gazans were infuriated when it was learned that the Israeli-made pipes that were intended to repair Gazas decrepit sewage system had been sold to Hamas but used to assemble Qassam missiles and bunkers.

The most anger, however, likely stemmed from the Hamas governments decision to raise taxes on cigarettes. Lucky Strikes used to cost 10 shekels ($2.50) per pack. After Hamas came to power, the same pack of cigarettes cost 16 or 17 ($4.00 or $4.25) shekels. Other American cigarettes could cost Gazans upward of 40 shekels per pack ($10.00). The Gazans who could not afford to smoke were said to be fuming.

FP: Some people say that there were positive aspects of Hamas rule. How is that possible?

Schanzer: Hamas, of course, attempted to highlight the positives. Within weeks of the takeover, the Islamists boasted that crime, tribal clashes, and kidnapping had all dropped precipitously in the Gaza Strip. But, this drop in crime was more than likely the result of fear on the part of Gaza residents rather than a sign of increased or improved law enforcement.

Hamas proved once again that terrorist groups, much like their Fatah predecessors, were unfit to govern. The Islamist group exhibited an almost criminal indifference to the suffering of Gaza citizens impacted by the violence, lack of services, deepening poverty, collateral damage from the battles, and the predictable Israeli reprisals that resulted from Hamas attacks.

FP: Jonathan Schanzer, thank you for joining us.

Youre quite welcome, Jamie. Always a pleasure.

Take a good look.  Because this is what will replace western civilization if we allow it to.  And it will be the way YOU live.

If we fight against radical Islam we may win and we may lose.  If we do not, we will most assuredly lose because, either way, they will continue fighting.  And if they win, our culture and our civilization is over, to be replaced by what?  A society that does this to its own mostly-Muslim population?  What do you think it would do to Westerners if given the chance?         

God help the people who want to live this way.  God help the people who are forced live this way whether they want to or not.  

I fervently hope Barack Obama reads this interview....and understands that we play political games with radical Islamic terrorists at our own peril. 


Ken Berwitz

I pulled this excellent blog from  My compliments to Curt for doing the research --- research that mainstream media never quite get around to when the issue is Barack Obama:

What Did Obama Know and When Did He Know It?

Posted by: Curt @ 10:19 am in Barack Obama, MSM Bias

Doug Ross has even more evidence that Obama discussed his senate seat with Gov. Blagojevich, this source, the Chicago Tribune, makes the fourth article referencing the meeting:

Gov. Rod Blagojevich on Thursday cited the potential for bad karma and avoided discussing potential Senate successors to Barack Obama should the Democratic nominee win the White House, but acknowledged he has a process in mind for making the most important appointment of his career.

I just dont want to jinx him and I dont like the karma of me thinking that far ahead, Blagojevich said of Obamas prospects in Tuesdays election. The governor added, We have had some discussions about a process which well share if all goes well.

Sources close to Blagojevich, who asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak for him, said one issue would be to consider who could most help the governor politically.

What helps me in my quest for the future, whether its re-election or legacy? one Blagojevich confidant said of the selection process being eyed by the Democratic governor, who has seen his job approval rating fall to staggering levels. Its a big milestone.

Hot Air has this photo, placed on the Governors website on November 12th:


With the caption Governor Blagojevich confers with now President‐Elect Barack Obama.

Meanwhile Politico has seven questions for Obama:

1 Did you communicate directly or indirectly with Blagojevich about picking your replacement in the U.S. Senate?

2 Why didnt you or someone on your team correct your close adviser David Axelrod when he said you had spoken to Blagojevich about picking your replacement?

3. When did you learn the investigation involved Blagojevichs alleged efforts to sell your Senate seat, or of the governors impending arrest?

4 Did you or anyone close to you contact the FBI or U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald about Blagojevichs alleged efforts to sell your Senate seat to the highest bidder?

5 Did federal investigators interview you or anyone close to you in the investigation?

6 When did you and Blagojevich last speak and about what?

7 Do you regret supporting Blagojevich?

He was asked two of those questions this morning:

Asked if he or his people had interacted with Blagojevich or his office about filling the vacant Illinois Senate seat, Obama said he, personally, had not.

But he left the door open to the possibility that his aides may have and promised that he would reveal the results of an investigation of any such interactions in the next few days.

He said: what I want to do is gather all the facts about any staff contacts that may have taken place between the transition office and the governors office.

He asserted, though, that no one on his staff engaged Blagojevich in his alleged efforts to trade the Senate seat for personal benefit.

Asked if federal investigators had contacted him or his people in the course of the investigation, Obama said that neither he nor his people had been interviewed.

We had no contactsounds quite familiar doesnt it? I did not have sex with that woman, yeahrings a bell.

Basically this all comes down to what did he know, and when did he know it. Will the MSM ask the tough questions? Run down every lead? Shake the bushes? Based on past history I highly doubt it but a few may, like the Wall Street Journal:

What remains to be seen is whether this episode will put an end to what Chicago Tribune political columnist John Kass calls the national medias almost willful fantasy that Mr. Obama and Chicagos political culture have little to do with each other. Mr. Kass notes that the media devoted a lot more time and energy to investigating the inner workings of Sarah Palins Wasilla, Alaska, than it has looking at Mr. Obamas Chicago connections.

To date, Mr. Obamas approach to Illinois corruption has been to congratulate himself for dodging association with it. I think I have done a good job in rising politically in this environment without being entangled in some of the traditional problems of Chicago politics, he told the Chicago Tribune last spring. At the time, Mr. Obama was being grilled over news that he bought his house through a land deal involving Tony Rezko, a political fixer who was later convicted on 16 corruption counts. Rezko is mentioned dozens of times in the 76-page criminal complaint against Mr. Blagojevich.

Mr. Obama has an ambiguous reputation among those trying to clean up Illinois politics. We have a sick political culture, and thats the environment Barack Obama came from, Jay Stewart, executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, told ABC News months ago. Though Mr. Obama did support ethics reforms as a state senator, Mr. Stewart noted that hes been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state including, at this point, mostly Democratic politicians.

One thing the WSJ points out is that many lawmakers in Illinois were disgusted with Blagojevich and wanted him impeached. Illinois senate president Emil Jones, the man who helped Obama get that Senate seat, didnt like the calls for impeachment and said so loudly. What would Obama do?

Many people were curious who Mr. Obama would side with in the dispute. Would it be with those Democrats who wanted to move aggressively against an apparently corrupt governor or with his old Chicago ally, Mr. Jones, who preferred to wait? Mr. Obama did neither. He kept silent. (I emailed the Obama campaign about Mr. Blagojevichs problems in June, but my question was ignored.)

He acted like he always did. Took neither side and stayed in the shadows.

Classic Obama..get the popcorn out folks

My compliments, also, to for unearthing that photo of Obama and blagojerkovich. (Ok, I admit that all it took was to go to the Illinois Governor's web site.  But that must be especially hard, since mainstream media couldn't find the photo at all).

So we have Obama - again - caught in a dead-on lie.  And mainstream media - again - caught doctoring news to protect him.

This stinks like a two week old salmon filet at room temperature.  And the stench hasn't hit its peak yet.  Not by a long shot.  The big question is;  will media eventually report this scandal, or will they continue to cover it up on behalf of Saint Barack?

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.



Ken Berwitz

From Noel Sheppard of

Obama's Transition Website Censoring Questions About Blagojevich

President-elect Barack Obama's transition website is censoring questions offered by readers about disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Although the "Open for Questions" page was launched Wednesday stating "The Obama-Biden Transition wants to hear from you," readers have been quick to shelter the president-elect from inquiries relating to Blago. 

I guess this is change you can believe in.

As reported by Politico's Ben Smith:

President-elect Barack Obama's Transition today launched "Open for Questions," a Digg-style feature allowing citizens to submit questions, and to vote on one another's questions, bringing favored inquiries to the top of the list.

It was suggested when it launched that the tool would bring uncomfortable questions to the fore, but the results so far are the opposite: Obama's supporters appear to be using -- and abusing -- a tool allowing them to "flag" questions as "inappropriate" to remove all questions mentioning Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich from the main pages of Obama's website.

The Blagojevich questions -- many of them polite and reasonable -- can be found only by searching words in them, like "Blagojevich," which produces 35 questions missing from the main page of the site.

You really gotta love it. What are some of the questions being censored?

"Given the current corruption charges involving Blagojevich, will 'serious' campaign finance reform that takes money completely out of politics through publicly funded elections be a priority in the first term?" asked Metteyya of Santa Cruz, California.

"This submission was removed because people believe it is inappropriate," reads the text underneath it.

Also removed as "inappropriate":

"In light of the recent corruption scandals (Blagojevich, Rangel, Jefferson, Stevens, etc) that have dominated the political scene,is there any ethics legislation being crafted to actually curb corruption and prevent another wave of nixonian cynicism?", a question from "lupercal," of Gainesville.

And: "Is Barack Obama aware of any communications in the last six weeks between Rod Blagojevich or anyone representing Rod Blagojevich and any of Obama's top aides?", a question from Phil from Pennsylvania.

I'm sure media outlets who regularly carped and whined about secrecy and lack of transparency in the Bush White House will be aggressively reporting this revelation, although I wouldn't hold my breath.

In reading this, I find myself recalling a comment made by the father of Joran (pronounced urine) Van Der Sloot, the sickening excuse for a human being who was accused of killing Alabama teenager Natalie Holloway in Aruba.  At the beginning of the investigation, daddy Van Der Sloot was quoted as saying "no body, no case". 

Obamians appear to be working on the same premise.  If they eliminate all questions about blagojevich and, more generally, Democratic corruption, the questions don't exist.

What happened to "change we can believe in"?  Does this look like change to you? 

Or does it look like Obama and his people are taking a crash course from newly proposed Secretary of State Clinton and her husband?



Ken Berwitz

As you can see, I've changed the title for this series of blogs by adding the word "attempted".  I made the change because I have become guardedly hopeful that franken won't be able to do it. 

Not that it would surprise me at all if the necessary votes to reverse Coleman's win mystically materialize (the way they did for Christine Gregoire in Washington State four years ago).  It won't.  But as the days go by it will be harder and harder to pull off.

Here is the beginning of an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, which tells us about franken's latest ploy;  a sob-a-thon:

Franken YouTube video pushes some buttons

The Franken camp releases a YouTube video of emotional voters whose absentee ballots were rejected. The Coleman camp calls it a new low.

Last update: December 11, 2008 - 5:59 AM

The video, which was released on YouTube ( and came two days before the board's Friday meeting on the issue, was immediately criticized by Republicans, who described it as "a new low" and another attempt to discredit local election officials.

In one scene, quadriplegic Mike Brickley of Bloomington is shown lying in bed -- with his head resting on a Minnesota Vikings pillow -- as he pleads with officials to count his vote. "I may be a quadriplegic," said Brickley, 46, as he stares into the camera and speaks in a halting voice, "...but we are still someone, and we deserve to have our votes counted."

Brickley, according to the campaign, had his absentee ballot rejected because he was not a registered voter -- the campaign said state records show he was registered -- and because his signature on his ballot envelope did not match the signature on his application for the absentee ballot. Brickley said he signed his ballot application by holding a pen in his mouth, and had his wife, who had recently suffered a stroke and is legally blind, sign the ballot on his behalf.

The video's release marked the latest attempt by Franken and U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman to swing public opinion -- and, possibly, the state Canvassing Board -- in their favor as the monthlong recount heads toward more critical turning points, and as Franken remains behind in the official recount. On Friday, the board will review what to do with what are likely hundreds of absentee ballots that were improperly rejected.

Apparently, in the happy horsemanure world of al franken, if the election results stand it means that Norm Coleman is against enfranchising the handicapped.

I will say, however, that the Minnesota Vikings pillow was certainly a nice touch -- though they missed the chance to tell us Mr. Brickley has a pet gopher and his favorite dish is wall-eyed pike.

Look, it is a fact of life that some number of ballots are rejected in an election.  Mr. Brickley's ballot would have been one of them because of a series of tragic, unique circumstances.  No one wronged him.  No one intentionally took away his vote. 

By the way, the video does not tell us who Mr. Brickley intended to vote for (though I suspect I know, don't you?).  It also doesn't tell us if Mr. Franken found a cache of Republicans who were denied their vote and excluded them. 

What it does do is show five rejections that seem egregiously wrong --- out of almost 3 million votes cast on election day. 

Should they have been counted?  If these people are telling the truth, yes.  Just as others should have - and should not have - been counted for a variety of reasons. 

But it is now over a month past election day.  And since no count will ever get everything perfectly right , at some point you have to stop and say "enough".  That point is past due in Minnesota.

In short, the video is BS, and maudlin BS at that. 

I would say shame on al franken, but you can't nail a man for what he doesn't have.

Matt Weiner free -- one signature on the application for an absentee ballot, another on the ballot itself. They're two different documents. (12/12/08)

free` "Brickley said he signed his ballot application by holding a pen in his mouth, and had his wife, who had recently suffered a stroke and is legally blind, sign the ballot on his behalf." So is he saying it was signed twice? once by him and once by hos wife signing his name. (12/11/08)

free` I just saw this story at >> What is the point of having a hand recount of ballots in the Minnesota Senate race if the Democratic secretary of state is going to use the election night totals in precincts where it will benefit Democrat Al Franken? dems have no shame whatsoever. (12/11/08)

(Anon) Interesting note: this election will be decided by very few votes, so doesn't it matter that EVERYONE who properly voted and registered should be counted? The issue here is not who they voted for, although you would like to hammer home your blithe anecdotes, but whether or not they were improperly rejected. I for one am not proud of a system where peoples voices are marginalized, but it is ok because no one did it on purpose. Shame on you. (12/11/08)

Ken Berwitz Anon - No need to be anonymous, your point is perfectly well taken. However, I disagree with you for several reasons. The most important is that the election is over and - as with every election - a number of votes have not been counted. Assuming it was conducted honestly, a mix of Republican, Democratic and independent votes have all been rejected for a variety of reasons - some good, some bad. You cannot go back in time and retrieve them. That is not a recount, that is a new count. Next, let's remember that al franken is not making these demands for altruistic purposes; his goal is to overtake Norm Coleman and win the election. You can bet he is not avidly seeking out recount situations in Republican areas as he is in Democratic areas. Finally, as I said in the blog, NO count is going to be completely correct. There is no such thing. There are always going to be grey areas and disputed ballots. At some point you have to accept a result. How many more go-throughs do you want over how long a period of time? The entire state has been counted and recounted. franken lost. (12/11/08)


Ken Berwitz

Rahm Emanuel is slated to be Barack Obama's chief of staff.

But is he implicated in the already huge, and rapidly growing, Democratic scandal in Illinois?

Well, he's not talking.  At least not so far.  And maybe we better hear something from him soon.

Here is an excerpt from today's article in the Chicago Tribune.  The bold print at the end of this excerpt should give you an idea of why Mr. Emanuel may be a tad more tight-lipped than he usually is:

Barack Obama now says Gov. Rod Blagojevich should resign

Republicans had criticized his initial guarded response

As President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday joined a chorus of political leaders urging the resignation of Gov. Rod Blagojevich, his staff remained tight-lipped about the growing federal probe into a scandal that has broken the momentum of his transition.

Obama's call for Blagojevich to step down was in stark contrast to his legalistic initial response to the governor's arrest, which drew criticism from Republicans and bewildered even admirers who expected the incoming president to express more outrage.

"It was a lost opportunity for some real eloquence," said Cindy Canary, executive director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Blagojevich was charged with trying to sell his power to fill Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. Several top Illinois Democrats called for Blagojevich's ouster within hours of his arrest.

Paul Begala, himself a viciously partisan Democratic hatchetman, has described Rahm Emanuel's style as "a cross between a toothache and a hemmorhoid".  Do you doubt for a minute he'd be a player in this situation?

Time to open up and start talking, Mr. Emanuel.  This scandal includes you, and it will not go away.  The longer you clam up, the bigger it will get.

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